Monday evening’s Class 4A district tournament showdown between Moscow and Sandpoint at the Moscow Community Playfields saw the Bears move the scoreboard run totals in three separate innings to the Bulldogs’ one.
Unfortunately for Moscow, when Sandpoint broke through, the floodgates opened.
Sandpoint racked up all nine of its runs in a third inning that included a grand slam from Avery Boksch. The Bulldogs prevailed 9-3, and will play host to the Bears on Wednesday as Moscow tries to stay alive in a best-of-three title series.
“The grand slam did us in,” Moscow coach Griffin Rod said. “That was a big hit. That was with two outs; we had a chance to get out of that with them being up 3-2, and they just kept hitting the ball.”
Mike Kiblen led the way offensively for Moscow (11-9), batting 3-for-3 with an RBI double. Chad Redinger had five strikeouts in four innings pitched for the Bears before leaving in the fourth, while Kiblen stepped in to pitch the next two and strike out three. Freshman Ethan McLaughlin came in as Moscow’s seventh-inning reliever and showed poise under pressure as he struck out two with the bases loaded to help stop Sandpoint (15-8) from pulling further away.
“That’s his first playoff action,” Rod noted proudly of McLaughlin.
In the bottom of the seventh, Moscow batters came out aggressive as they searched for the magic they needed, but could not quite find it. Ryan Delusa hit a high line drive to center field that was caught by Thielbahr. Next up, Barrett Abendroth delivered a deep pop fly that had Moscow fans’ hopes rising with it, only to see it dip into right field and the glove of Sandpoint’s Evan Williams.
With his team backed against the wall, Moscow’s Cody Isakson hit a line drive that whizzed just past the glove of the diving Sandpoint second baseman and earned him a single. Devon Conway suffered the fateful third out for Moscow as his pop-up foul ball was caught by Sandpoint catcher Trevor Brackett.
“We were letting good pitches go and then swinging at curveballs that we couldn’t do much with,” Rod said. “It wasn’t as bad of a baseball game as a score reflects. … The beauty of it is that we get to play them again on Wednesday, and if ever there was a group of guys that could do it, these are them.”
Moscow is now 2-3 against Sandpoint this season, with the teams’ next meeting set for 3 p.m. Wednesday at Sandpoint. A win for the Bears would force a Friday decider, while another Sandpoint victory would clinch the title.
Sandpoint 000 900 0—9 11 2
Moscow 101 100 0—3 7 2
Boksch, Thielbahr (5), Roop (5), Kody McDonald (6) and Trevor Brackett. Chad Redinger, Mike Kiblen (5), Ethan McGlaughlin (7) and Jack Bales.
Sandpoint hits — Lieman 3, Zimmerman 2 (2B), Butler 2 (2B), Boksch (HR), Neuhart, Garcia, Brackett.
Moscow hits — Kiblen 3 (2B), Redinger, Ryan Delusa, Barrett Abendroth, Cody Isakson.
Wendt may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 848-2260,